Ransomware hits St. Louis Public Library!

MalwareWe have probably all heard about ransomware attacks on organizations, but it’s hard to believe libraries could be a target of these coordinated attacks.

But those ideas are wrong; and this week the St Louis Public Library is serving as our latest warning.

“Hackers have infected every public computer in the St. Louis Public Library system, stopping all book borrowing and cutting off internet access to those who rely on it for computers.

The computer system was hit by ransomware, a particularly nasty type of computer virus that encrypts computer files.

 This form of attack renders computers unusable — unless victims are willing to pay an extortion fee and obtain a key to unlock the machines.

According to the library, hackers demanded $35,000 in the electronic currency Bitcoin — but the library refuses to pay. Instead, it’ll wipe the entire computer system and reset it, which could take days or weeks.

The cyberattack hit 700 computers at all of the city’s 16 library branches, according to spokeswoman Jen Hatton.” (read the full article here)

If you like to listen to podcasts, or need some terrifying news in your day, the very popular podcast Radiolab created an episode about ransomware in 2015.  “It would seem that hackers today can do just about anything they want – from turning on the cellphone in your pocket to holding your life’s work hostage. Cyber criminals today have more sophisticated tools, have learned to work collaboratively around the world and have found innovative ways to remain deep undercover in the Internet’s shadows. This episode, we shine a light into those shadows to see the world from the perspectives of both cybercrime victims and perpetrators.”

At CMLE Headquarters, we are taking this potential threat to all of our libraries seriously. We are currently creating content for our website with ransomware information and resources, to be sure members are prepared for a ransomware attack.  If you have content, websites, or other material to share, please send them to us! This is one of those big problems that is easier to solve when we all work together.

A few quick information resources:


A couple of books you might consider: